Liberia: The World's Worst Country in 2003
By Winsley S. Nanka
December 18, 2002
The annual world survey by the London based Economist Magazine, The World in 2003 has predicted that Liberia would be "the world's worst place to live in 2003". According to the Economist's Intelligence Unit survey, even "by African standards", Liberia is "set to get worse".
The Economist bases its prediction on the war being waged between the Liberian government and the rebels fighting to unseat it, Liberians United for Democracy and Reconciliation (LURD), the Liberian government's repression of its opponents and "animosity between Liberia's 16 ethnic groups". The other factors the Economist cited for Liberia's gruesome distinction are the isolation of the pariah regime in Monrovia by the international community and the 2003 Presidential and Parliamentary elections which the magazine predicts if held, will not be free and fair and would sink Liberia further into chaos.
The magazine annual survey also gives a chilling demographic and economic statistics on Liberia. According to the annual survey, Liberia's infant motility rate is 147 per 1000 births. Meaning for every 1000 children born, 147 are expected to die before they reach their first birthday. Life expectancy rate in Liberia is 48 years. It means the average Liberian is expected to live for 48 years. Worst still, 42 percent of the population according to the survey, is undernourished. It means that 42 persons out of 100 in Liberia do not have enough to eat on a daily basis.
The annual survey predicts further that the 2003 general and presidential elections in Liberia will increase the level of political repression in Liberia by the Taylor regime. The survey predicts that it is "unlikely that the country (Liberia) will have the conditions for anything resembling a free and fair vote should the polls (elections) be held."
The statement could be interpreted to mean that the conditions in Liberia in 2003 would not be suitable for relatively free and fair elections. If the elections are held, Mr. Taylor and his cronies will steal the elections, the opposition will protest, and the result will be a paralysis in Liberia.
Economically, Liberia is in the worst state than ever before. According to the Economist survey, Real GDP, which is the level of goods and services produced in Liberia measure at prices of some base year, fell by 5 percent in 2002. It is further expected to decrease by 8 percent in 2003.
The last country that was chosen as the world worst country by the magazine two years ago was Afghanistan. Since the selection, the Taliban regime had been deposed for its support for the September 11 terrorist hijackers in the United States, an interim regime has been installed whose authority is limited to capital. Rivals regional warlords are mushrooming across Afghanistan, according to international press reports.
Liberians need to fasten their seat belts, if the Economist's prediction proves to be correct, the worst is yet to come.